Maybe you’ve seen them already on your Facebook? Some find them extremely annoying, others just can’t get enough of them. Bitstrips, the app that turns your life into a personal comic. It’s some sort of YouTube for comics where you can design your own avatar which you can edit, e-mail, post, print, blog or post on your Facebook. “Basically, it’s an app which turns you and your friends into a cast of cartoon characters” explains Jacob Blackstock, Bitstrips’ chief executive and creative director. “Then you can take those characters and drop them into crazy scenes.”
Bitstrips has been around for quite a few years, but it is only since the app for mobile phones was created that it started to get really popular. It has been the most downloaded app in the iTunes store for some time and is currently still on number 3. Some critics are very negative about the quality of the comics and the lack of creativity it brings. Others are giving bad reviews or an awful rating at the Google Playstore. The app doesn’t work properly sometimes and generates a lot of errors. But then why are there over 11 million users? According to our CRUSH model Bitstrips should be Cool, Real, Unique in order to stay hot for Gen Y. You must be able to self-identify with the product and it should make people happy. But it is?
People might argue about the coolness of Bitstrips. Personally I think it is a more fun and cool way to show people what you are doing. Instead of a lame text in your status report, you can instantly see what somebody is doing, which will obviously be more pleasant for the right-brainers amongst us. On the other hand, people are wasting a lot of time simply by creating the comic itself (I experienced this myself, see the comic below) and you can come across as someone who does not get enough attention. Although it might be cool to create your own personal avatar resembling you to some point, it might get annoying if your whole Facebook wall is being spammed by other Bitstrips. Facebook even built in a function to hide all Bitstrips from your news feed. (To hide them from your News Feed, you fun-killer, the next time you see one, just click the gray “downwards” arrow in the top right corner of the status box. Select ‘Hide all from Bitstrips’ and you’ll be cartoon-free).
There’s no point arguing the realness of the product though, since people can create a comic of real-life situations at the moment it is happening. But is it unique? Over 55 million cartoons have been made so far. To me it seems like an upgraded version of the emoticons we have all known for so long. But are we really in need for something like that? On the other hand, you can create your own avatar and situation which will probably make every Bitstrip a unique one. Since it’s about yourself most of the time, it also qualifies for the Self-ID factor in our CRUSH model.
It can create happiness for a short while, but if you just twitter for the word Bitstrips, you will see that it can cause quite some frustration too. A lot of people do not appreciate them on their Facebook wall and are tired of those comics.
In general we can conclude that Bitstrips originally scored high on our CRUSH model, which could explain its success. But some of those factors will decline if they do not change certain things. Coolness will turn into frustration and boredom. The uniqueness has already disappeared and as a lot of people are complaining, I think this will just be another hype like Farmville.
But how can they prevent going into the history books as one of the many trends?
As said before, coolness and uniqueness will fade and happiness is already turning into frustration for some. By responding to those factors, they might last a bit longer. But how can they stay cool and unique and create happiness? Here are some of my suggestions: first of all, they can start by fixing all the bugs and troubles with the current system. This would grant many more people to stay on their website and keep using their program. It would result in less frustration and more active users. Secondly, they should keep looking for new innovations and implementations to make comic creations easier. If the creation process is easier, it will take less time to create a comic which could result into more time for even more comics. They could for example implement a function in which you can drag the arms or legs of your avatar to position them as you choose instead of looking into the entire library for the right position. Thirdly, to stay cool they can implement other options instead of comics, for example use interactive comics or small animated comics.
What do you think?